"Music is part of the genetic code of KCRW," says Ferro in a statement. "Our approach to this important role of MBE host was to really push the boundaries of what it means to be a DJ in today’s on-demand world. Novena and Anthony, together, make a powerful and joyful duo who will help KCRW be where the people are and share the magic of KCRW music. With these new hosts plus Anne Litt solidly at the helm of our strategy we are ready to define a new era in music."
Valadez, who has been with KCRW since 2008, currently hosts the station’s late-night Monday music show from midnight to 3 a.m. A native of Los Angeles, he has held DJ residencies at the city’s Temple Bar and Natural History Museum as well as the SLS in Las Vegas; he also hosted and co-produced three seasons of the series Crate Diggers on Fuse TV. As Morning Becomes Eclectic co-host, Valadez says he’d like to put more of an emphasis on local talent.
"Whether it's talent buying in venues or DJing in venues, I feel like [Novena and I have] always been at the forefront of seeing some of these [emerging] talents before they signed major deals," Valadez tells Billboard. "That's one of the things that I would love to put our stamp on, are these amazing talents that are from LA…and supporting them as they grow and building that relationship with them."
A relative newbie to KCRW, Carmel (the daughter of Sly & the Family Stone frontman Sly Stone) has been with the station since 2018 and, like Valadez, currently serves as part of KCRW’s "after-midnight roster" of disc jockeys. In addition to her work as a performer and DJ, Carmel has been an entertainment booker for Temple Bar Concepts in Los Angeles for the past 14 years. She says her close friendship with Valadez, with whom she has also collaborated with on podcasts and other "DIY ventures," makes her new gig all the more exciting.
"I think before they were even doing the interview process, Anthony and I were like, ‘It would be really cool if we both did it and we sort of in passing mentioned it to some people at the station,'" says Carmel, who notes she initially wasn't going to apply for the job given that she'd only been at the station a few months at the time. "I was just like, 'Oh, there's no way that I would get this,'" she continues. "But then I thought about it a little bit more and a couple people encouraged me to, and [then] I encouraged myself."
Valadez and Carmel say they’re looking to broaden the scope of Morning Becomes Eclectic with the addition of new voices – including bringing on other KCRW DJs – as well as "expand[ing] beyond" the 9 a.m. to noon time slot by offering an extended slate of digital content including social media activations, videos, playlists and more. Most of all, both want to create even more of a sense of community.
"I'm a big proponent of having radio becoming not just this monologue entity where you listen to the DJ, but rather us listening and connecting with our audience," says Valadez.
"The thing that’s really bringing life into me right now is feeling connected and supported by my community," adds Carmel. "I want to harness that energy into the show more."
In addition to being the first dual hosts of Morning Becomes Eclectic, Valadez and Carmel are also the first Latino and Black hosts, respectively, of the long-running program, whose pasts hosts have also included Tom Schnabel, Chris Douridas and Nic Harcourt.
"When someone like myself is in that position or Anthony, there will be people who see us and be like, 'That person looks like me, and they're doing this thing that I never imagined I could do until I see someone who looks like me doing it,'" says Carmel. "It's really awesome to have more people of diverse backgrounds in [these] positions than we may be used to seeing because of how it inspires other people."
Adds Valadez, "It's nice to add a perspective that feels outside of the NPR bubble, or the KCRW bubble."
With both coming from the world of nightlife, hosting a morning program will also be an adjustment for Carmel and Valadez -- though the transition will be easier given that their usual late-night venues having been shut down since March due to the pandemic.
"COVID has really reshaped my sleeping pattern," says Valadez. "I now go to bed early and I wake up at like five and it's a beautiful thing coming from nightlife and DJing till three in the morning in Vegas. Now I kind of enjoy going to bed early and waking up early and enjoying the day. I'm excited to wake up with L.A. and the world."